Apple seems to have adopted the mantra “go big or go home.” The company is planning to introduce its largest iPad ever: a 12.9-inch behemoth that will dwarf its largest existing models, the modest 9.7-inch iPad Air and iPad Retina.
The buffed-up screen size would put the iPad in the same arena as larger tablets such as Microsoft’s third-generation Surface Pro 3, a 12-inch device it markets as being able to “do it all.”
According to a report on Bloomberg News, the new iPad is due out sometime in the first quarter of 2015. The company is reported to have been working with suppliers for over a year to develop a number of new, large touch-screen devices.
Declining Tablet Sales
The development is only the latest news that Apple is shaking up its product line following stagnant revenues. Sales of current iPad models have fallen for two consecutive quarters. The company is reportedly introducing new versions of the current iPad models sporting the same dimensions in September. The new models will be accompanied by larger iPhones, including 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models.
Despite lackluster sales, CEO Tim Cook told Walt Mossberg at Re/code that the iPad’s current troubles represent only a “speed bump.” Other manufacturers have similarly struggled with the maturing tablet market: Microsoft’s Surface line has failed to get much traction, while Samsung has described sales of its tablets as “sluggish.”
If the reports of the new iPad’s screen size are to be believed, the dimensions would definitely put the new model at the top of the range for tablet sizes. Toshiba’s Excite tablet, launched in 2012, came in at a gargantuan 13.3 inches. Unfortunately, the Excite may have scared buyers off with its size, leading Toshiba to pull back to a more modest 10-inch model.
Big iPad Targeting Big Business?
In addition to juicing anemic consumer sales, an iPad with a significantly larger screen could have a major effect on sales to enterprise customers. Beyond the larger screen, several other recent developments may converge to make the new models much more attractive to corporate IT departments.
IBM previously announced it would begin developing business apps for the iPad and iPhone. Big Blue’s sales force, which focuses on the enterprise sector, will also be pushing iPads to its marquee customers now. Cook had previously described Apple’s collaboration with IBM as being engineered specifically to “act as a catalyst for future iPad growth.”
Additionally iOS 8, Apple’s new mobile operating system due out in the fall, is said to allow split-screen multi-tasking. A 12.9-inch screen would play directly into the advantage provided by split-screen functionality. Meanwhile, Microsoft has already released a version of Office for the iPad, along with other companies that have recently launched productivity apps for the platform.